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Film / Carry On Nurse

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Cause of illness... Large overdose of laughter!

Jack: W-w-what happens if anything goes wrong? Heh-heh.
Oliver: We-we'll have to amputate your leg.
— An unqualified and high on Laughing Gas Oliver Reckitt before performing bunion-removal surgery on Jack Bell.

Carry On Nurse is the 1959 sequel to the 1958 British film Carry On, Sergeant, which later became the second outing of the popular Carry On franchise. It starred Kenneth Connor, Shirley Eaton, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques, Terence Longdon, Bill Owen, Leslie Phillips, Joan Sims, Susan Stephen, Kenneth Williams, and Guest Star Wilfrid Hyde-White.

The movie is based around many subplots with lots of different characters that meet up in a location - in this case, being in a hospital. This would soon be the typical set-up that many of the successful Carry On films would follow years later.

Journalist Ted York (Longdon) is rushed to Haven Hospital with appendicitis. Once he arrives, he meets Staff Nurse Dorothy Denton (Eaton) and falls for her. The other nurses at Haven Hospital include clumsy Student Nurse Stella Dawson (Sims) and Nurse Georgie Axwell (Stephen). One thing they all have in common is their annoyance with the Colonel (Hyde-White), a private patient who won't go five minutes without bothering them or getting Mick the orderly (Harry Locke) to place horse bets for him.

Meanwhile the men's wing is looked over by the frosty Sister (Joan Hickson) and the fearsome Matron (Jacques), and is populated by several interesting people - new arrival Bernie Bishop (Connor), a boxer with a broken hand; Humphrey Hinton (Hawtrey), who is never without his headphones; Perc Hickson (Owen), who's leg is in plaster; Bert Able (Cyril Chamberlain), who misses his wife, Alice (Marianne Stone); Henry Bray (Brian Oulton), who tries to appear upper-class; and Oliver Reckitt (Williams), an intellectual who clashes with Matron at every opportunity.

Visiting hours bring the men's friends and family over, and bring about some new developments - Ted's editor Alec Lawrence (Ed Devereaux) gets him to write some articles on hospital life; Oliver is met by Jill Thompson (Jill Ireland), the sister of his friend Harry, and the two struggle to express their feelings for each other; Bernie's manager Ginger (Michael Medwin) tries to give him advice for in the ring; and Henry's wife Rhoda (Hilda Fenemore) ruins any allusion of class he had going for him.

After this, another new face joins the men's wing - playboy Jack Bell (Phillips), who has to have a bunion removed. When Jack's operation is delayed and puts his chances at a romantic weekend with his girlfriend, Meg (June Whitfield), in jeopardy, Hilarity Ensues as the men in the ward decide to get drunk and try to tackle the operation themselves, while Nurses Dawson and Axwell manage to finally get back at the Colonel, with the help of a daffodil, of all things.

Tropes included are:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When the Matron walks in to find the Colonel in a compromising position with a daffodil up his bottom, she can't help but crack a smile and stifle a laugh.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Bernie Bishop.
    • Humphrey Hinton.
    • Alice Able.
    • Haven Hospital.
    • While not stated in the film itself, the Staff Nurse's name is Dorothy Denton.
  • All There in the Script: We don't get to know Nurse Dawson's first name or the Staff Nurse's name, but the back of the DVD in "The Classic Carry On Film Collection" boxset gives them as "Stella" and "Dorothy Denton".
  • Annoying Patient:
    • The Colonel is perhaps the best example of this trope in the Carry On series. He has Mick, the orderly, place bets for him regularly, and makes incessant minor requests of the nurses, preventing them from properly carrying out their duties in the wards. When he sticks a learning driver "L" sticker to Nurse Dawson's backside, the nursing staff decide to get revenge with a Thermometer Gag:
      Colonel: There's a big annoying lump in my bed.
      Nurse Dawson: There is. (Beat) I mean, er, there is?
    • Unusually for a film like this, the Colonel is the only example of this trope. All of the rest of the men, whilst appreciative of the beautiful ladies around them, are quiet, well-behaved, respectful, and just generally focused on healing up so they can leave.
  • Author Avatar: Norman Hudis based Ted York and his experience doing research in the hospital on himself coming up with ideas for the film whilst in hospital.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Matron is obsessed with cleanliness (to Oliver's intense frustration, as he resents the disruption to his daily schedule caused by cleaning the wards) and is a real taskmaster to the nurses under her command.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: When Jill, the sister of Oliver's friend Harry, visits Oliver in hospital with the books he needs to continue his studies, it becomes obvious that there is a mutual attraction between them, but they are too shy to say anything the first few times Jill visits. Lampshaded by Bernie, who can spot the obvious and nudges Oliver to come clean.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Humphrey is a fan of the radio series, Mrs Dale's Diary; Hattie Jacques (in her iconic role as the Matron) played Mrs. Leathers for 18 episodes in 1955.
  • The Chain of Harm: Downplayed; after Oliver Reckitt publicly calls the Matron out on how the rule against men laying atop the bedclothes is not an official ruling, but merely her personal dictation, Matron storms off in a huff. Resentful over being shown up and her authority challenged in front of the ward, she chews out the Sister, demanding that she have all the beds remade. The Sister then chews out Nurse Denton in the same way, passing on the order to her. Nurse Denton then chews out Nurse Dawson, who, in turn, angrily shoves her sandwich in the mouth of Mick the porter when he comes into range.
  • Character Catchphrase: Since Jack's surname is Bell, he likes using the phrase "Ding dong!" in conversation, especially when flirting with the nurses on his arrival at the hospital. The phrase would become closely associated with Leslie Phillips in the decades that followed.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Nurse Dawson, as played by Joan Sims in her "screen siren" years, is well-meaning but mistake-prone, frequently knocking things over, accidentally leaving a dish of catheters on the stove to sterilise for so long that they burn, and accidentally summoning the fire brigade when she tries to sound the bell for the end of visiting hours.
  • Disguised in Drag: When the patients decide to operate on Jack's bunion, they tie up the night nurse and replace her, in full uniform, with Mr Hinton.
  • Dream Sequence: A bizarre Deleted Scene involved one of Ted's after being injected with an anesthetic that involves him making moves on Nurse Axwell before Sister forces him back into bed with a whip.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Hattie Jacques' character is only known as Matron.
  • Faint in Shock: A Deleted Scene had this happen to a porter, who had been frightened by Nurse Dawson who was hiding in the mortuary after getting to the nurse's home late.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Ted nurses a crush on Nurse Denton while she looks after him.
  • The Gambling Addict: The Colonel is an inveterate gambler and is having his bets placed by Mick, the orderly.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Mr. Hinton is addicted to the hospital radio station and almost never takes his headphones off, whether he is laughing at the comic programmes, sobbing at the latest episode of Mrs Dale's Diary, miming along with a concert performance, or jotting down recipe tips.
  • Hospital Hottie: Nurse Denton is presented as young, attractive, and the object of several characters' affections, most notably Ted's.
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: The weedy Mr. Hinton tries to pass himself off as a nurse... and fails.
  • Insert Cameo: An uncredited Bernard Bresslaw's feet were used as stand-ins for Terence Longdon's, when Ted was supposedly standing in a bath.
  • Intoxication Ensues: When Oliver leads several patients in operating on Jack's bunion after his surgery is delayed, he leaves the nitrous oxide running and soon everyone in the operating theatre is completely loopy from laughing gas, allowing the staff to intervene before the unqualified "surgeon" can do any damage.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Whilst Oliver does come off as somewhat petty and self-absorbed, he does have a legitimate point that demanding the patients only be either under the covers of the bed or on the seat beside them serves no medical purpose, and indeed the need to constantly move between the two places is quite painful to Oliver in person, as he has abdominal stitching.
  • The Klutz: Nurse Dawson means well, but she is naturally clumsy and has more accidents than there are patients in the wards.
    Sister: Nurse Dawson! Are you training for nursing or demolition?
  • Laughing Gas: When the men prepare to operate on Jack, they accidentally leave the laughing gas on and all burst into hysterics.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The night nurse is tied up and Hinton pretends to be her while the others go to the operating theatre.
  • Naked Freak-Out: One of the many nurses is stripped by the drunken men in her ward and tied to a bed.
  • Oh, Crap!: Nurse Dawson's reaction to accidentally pushing the fire alarm instead of the leaving alarm is a single "Oh, crikey".
  • Pint-Size Powerhouse: Bernie the boxer is only 5'2", but he can still pack a punch, as Bert Able discovers to his cost when his medication makes him run amok in the ward.
  • Plot Hole: When the night nurse is tied up, her hands are tied but not her feet. So why couldn't she have just gotten up and walked away?
  • Putting the "Medic" in Comedic
  • Revised Ending: The film was supposed to end on the romance between Ted and Nurse Denton, but it was thought the daffodil scene between Matron and the Colonel would make a more memorable ending, so that scene was shunted last, and the rest is history.
  • Tagline: "...a real whing-ding in the men's wing!".
  • Teeny Weenie: When Nurse James and Nurse Lloyd help an embarrassed Bernie the boxer put on his pyjamas, he squirms and claims that he can do it himself, despite having a bandaged hand. What is Nurse Lloyd's response? "What a fuss about such a little thing!" An already-ashamed Bernie gives in and lets the two nurses continue undressing him.
  • Thermometer Gag: The nursing staff decide to get revenge on the Colonel's constant demands and pranks by swapping out his rectal thermometer for a daffodil and taking a photograph of him. This leads to one of the funniest scenes in the whole series:
    Colonel: Come, come, Matron. Surely, you've seen a temperature taken like this before?
    Matron: Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho, yes, Colonel, many times. But never... with a daffodil!
  • Tuckerization: The name on the door to the Colonel's room (Dr. Taksen) comes from the name of the set dresser, Arthur Taksen.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Bernie the boxer is hardly ever seen wearing anything above the waist.

For other Carry On films about doctoring, see Carry On Doctor, Carry On Again Doctor and Carry On Matron.